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Narratives of loss and resolution: Continuing bonds in the maternal experience of stillbirth

Hunt, C (2020). Narratives of loss and resolution: Continuing bonds in the maternal experience of stillbirth. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This qualitative study explores the ways in which bereaved mothers make sense of their experiences of continuing bonds with their stillborn child and aims to enrich an understanding of maternal sense-­making. A pluralistic analytical approach was employed, with the intention of providing a layered exploration. Semi-­structured interviews were carried out with four female participants who have experienced stillbirth. Following transcription, the interviews were approached using the IPA protocol (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009) and,
subsequently, via Gee’s five levels of Structural Narrative Analysis (1991). IPA analysis was intended to offer insight into the individual nature of experience; whilst Structural Narrative Analysis aimed to focus on the construction of meaning via linguistic elements.

Five main themes arise from the IPA analysis, which include: “Continuing bonds and the female body”; “Conflicted bonding with the shape-­shifting baby”; “The threatened self as a challenge to continuing bonds”;; “Connections between mother and child through space and time”; and “Experiencing connection in the life beyond loss”. The mother’s experience of seeing or holding her stillborn baby is selected as a moment of resonance to comprise the vignettes which have been parsed using Structural Narrative Analysis. This subsequent analytic layer highlights the very different ways in which each mother responds to her experience. The findings are discussed in the light of existing theory and research and have implications for Counselling Psychologists working with mothers who have experienced stillbirth. The potential impact of the researcher’s presence is considered throughout. Areas
for future research are discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[thumbnail of Hunt_Catharine_REDACTED (author and digi team) DPsych Portfolio_Redacted.pdf]
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